Demonstration of a Multicropping System in Establishing and Producing Native Trees

Rogerene K. M. Arce, Extension Agent

Alton Arakaki, Extension Agent
Moloka‘i Applied Research Farm, Kaunakakai

Understory crops growing under Kukui Trees

PROJECT GOAL: To promote the use of native and endemic plants in an agroforestry system and in restoration projects.

TARGET AUDIENCES: Hawaiian homesteaders, landowners interested in agroforestry with native species, and youth.

Objective 1. To establish a multi-cropping system of native trees and an understory of cash crops.

Although Objective number 1 was met in the first year of funding, the trees have not met marketable harvesting size for wood. The trees are being allowed to grow out with pruning done once or twice a year as needed; winter and summer. Project Leaders have previously sought advice from the Forestry Extension Specialist on ways to improve wood quality of trees which will be implemented at the appropriate time. All species are producing seeds with Kamani showing its first seeds this year. Kamani was also the slowest growing of the trees but, since has caught up in height.

Objective 2. To demonstrate a multi-cropping system of native agroforestry products.

New crops are being planted in the understory. This past December, one or two cacao seedlings were planted in between the trees in the same row. They are growing well and establishing even with the winds that blow through the project. There are a little over a 100 seedlings left to give away to cooperating growers. A second crop, Vanilla, is being established in pots of various sizes on a bench within the project.

Objective 3. To address concerns of landowners and Hawaiian homesteaders of the long-term establishment period in agro-forestry production.

During the Molokai Earth Day Celebration in April the project sponsored a poster exhibit. At least 400 visitors attended the event. Cacao, Kukui, Milo, and Kou trees, project information and bookmarkers were given away. The bookmarkers were provided by DLNR’s Kaulunani Urban Forestry Program. An educational interactive game was played by viewers where they had a question relating to one of the four native wood trees in the project and they had to guess which of the trees it was. In June, the project was visited by nine students and educators of the MCC Native Plant class of Molokai, five of which were native Hawaiians and Homesteaders. In July, a two day Tree Conference/Workshop was planned but did not occur due to low numbers of participants registering. Project Leaders will try to hold one in Spring 2004. In August, a grant writing workshop held twice was coordinated and offered to clientele and given by Jacqueline Ralya, Volunteer Technician for DLNR’s Kaulunani Urban Forestry Program. A total of 16 clientele attended, 12 of which were native Hawaiians or Homesteaders. Additionally, requests for information on this grant was sent to seven native Hawaiians and Homesteaders who could not attend the workshops. Participants represented local schools, businesses, and most were interested in growing trees on their own lands. One homesteader who planted a small field of awa was able to harvest earlier this year. She planned to send it out for sale and was advised to meet with USDA APHIS Plant Protection Quarantine.

Objective 4. To educate youth about the value of planting endemic and indigenous trees.

As described above, the Earth Day poster exhibit help meet this objective. In addition, the project was toured by the Hakipuu Charter School. The visiting students and teachers were told about the project and were educated on the cultural aspects of the native trees. Through a separate project that both Project Leaders are involved in, the Kaana Restoration Project, the RREA project is also discussed with youth that are being taught. The Kaana Project is a restoration project that involves classroom and hands-on education of native plants, Hawaiian culture and the tie in with the native species being planted, followed with the planting of the seedlings at the site which is the “home of the hula” on Molokai. The outplantings involve community members, other adult organizations statewide, and the students’ ohana or family members. Collaborators of this project include The Nature Conservancy, USDA Plant Material Center, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Moanalua Garden Foundation, Kumu Hula John Kaimikaua and Halau O Kukunaokala.

Objective 5. To evaluate potential cash crops, their marketability and management as understory plantings.

Objective number 5 is always addressed as the understory crops are harvested. After growing alfalfa, several understory crops were planted but have not been evaluated and are still becoming established, with the exception of Awa. The awa was harvested this year at three years of age and the wet weight of the roots was taken.

This project just finished its ninth year of funding.